What is Precision Weightlifting, and Why Does It Produce Greater Success in Competition?

Updated: Apr 17, 2019

This brief article will answer the proposed questions by describing what precision lifting is not, and by listing some of the main benefits that are gained in competition by training with precise technique. I will introduce the concept of “wiring” perfect nerve-path routes from the brain to key levers. A forced wiring process that yields immediate results.

What is Sloppy Technique?

Describing sloppy technique illustrates the opposite: precise technique.

What is sloppy technique? The simple answer is, any bouncing, rounding, micro collapsing, and constantly adjusting position are all forms of sloppy technique. We precisely nail the slot, or we don’t.

In training, just making the lift without being highly critical of the technique does not carry over well to producing excellent results in competition. The primary objective of elite-level training is technical. To precisely nail the slot for every rep from warm ups to maximums.

When we intentionally wire the nerve-path route, the firing sequence, to be “perfect,” and we diligently work on precisely repeating that contraction sequence to rep after rep, we automatically make more lifts. When preparing for PRs in competition, an added benefit of training to achieve precise nerve-path wiring is it takes our confidence, self-belief, and conviction to the next level. Conversely, when our wiring is sloppy with the slot having vast degrees of variation, we consistently miss attempts, especially PR attempts in competition under pressure.

Even if we are not consciously aware, our subconscious is very aware of our percentage of makes versus misses in training.

If our misses are far greater than our makes, our self-belief is iffy at best. In other words, when our technique is sloppy, we intuitively know that the odds of making a PR lift are not in our favor, especially under pressure. A self-inflicted mental state that is unnerving.

Clarification: I’m defining “a make” as precisely hitting the slot; with zero adjustment. Figuratively speaking, when we precisely hit the slot, we get more than just three white lights. We get a 10/10 on the form meter; even from the Russian judge.

During your next training session, count how many “makes” and “misses” you have. Then calculate your overall percentage of makes. Your “make” percentage in training directly links to the probability of making attempts in competition. If your make percentage is 50% in training, your probability of success in competition will be 50%. Just think of the carryover in competition if your make percentage in training were in the 90s.

Prediction: I predict that you will be shocked at how many light reps you “miss.”

One of the first questions I ask Olympic lifting masterclass students is: “In training, including warm ups, what’s your make percentage?” Since this precision-lifting concept is unfamiliar, I add: “When doing cleans, jerks, and snatches, or any assistance pulling movements, how many reps do you make that do not require any adjusting? How many do not require any foot movement to ‘save’ the lift?” I typically get a defensive laugh, and then it gets quiet. That’s the starting point. A hard-reflective moment.

For those who possess the emotional security and the psychological grit to look in the technique mirror, they’re off and running.

For those who are psychologically fragile and the reflection is too intense, they bail.

The Challenge

The challenge to improving your skill at lifting with precision is cultural. I think of it as “millennial culture.” The great strength of millennial culture is inclusion and positivity. The great weakness of millennial culture is a lack of critical evaluation. In millennial culture, anything critical automatically morphs into being judgmental; a detriment when it comes to understanding and executing precise technique.

Lifters who are highly motivated to succeed in competition, not just go for a “new experience” for the weekend, must be highly critical of their technique in training. Going six for six with three PRs in competition doesn’t just happen. We train for it, to execute it.

Can You Spot Micro Breaks?

This is the tactic to take seriously to instantly elevate your training and performance in competition. Can you spot micro breaks? If we were reviewing videos, at various speeds, of several lifters doing snatches, could you spot the micro breaks in their technique?

I find that most athletes and coaches cannot. And if coaches do have precision-detection software that’s switched on in their head, they alter their output because millennials don’t want to hear the raw observation.

Millennials want to hear: “awesome, sweet, you beast, you killed it,” no matter how sloppy they may be.

That fluffy attitude does not produce lifters who can nail PRs in competition under pressure. It’s positive energy in training, but detrimental for lifters who want to perform their best, and win.

Using the lever positions of a front squat to visually illustrate the point of sloppy technique: when driving out of the bottom with a near max weight, do your hips move backward at all, or do your knees come in at all, or does your low to middle back round even a little, or does your rack collapse even slightly, or is there any kind of hitching or adjusting? If the answer is yes to any of those observations, your technique is sloppy.

  • Remember: missed attempts are the result of sloppy “wiring” due to a lack of BADASS precision focus and forced perfect positions, not a strength issue.

Relentlessly Force Perfect Positions

To have more fun training. To get more out of every workout. To be the lifter in the gym who has incredible technique, be relentless about “wiring” perfect positions by forcing precise technique.

The growth verb here is: to force. Force yourself to be militant about training with precision. Forcing perfect positions will substantially increase your “make” percentage, as well as provide numerous positive psychological benefits. Lifting with precise technique will put your performance confidence through the roof.

▪ Point: Lifting with precise technique is the difference-maker.

"What is Precision Weightlifting, and Why Does It Produce Greater Success in Competition?"


By Steve Knight

April 5, 2019